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Zachariah Daniels v. M. D. Biter

September 18, 2012

ZACHARIAH DANIELS, PETITIONER,
v.
M. D. BITER, WARDEN, KERN VALLEY STATE PRISON, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: James K. Singleton, Jr. United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM DECISION

Zachariah Daniels, a state prisoner appearing pro se, filed a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Daniels is currently in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, incarcerated at the Kern Valley State Prison. Respondent has answered, and Daniels has replied.

I. BACKGROUND/PRIOR PROCEEDINGS

While confined at the California State Prison, Solano ("CSP-Solano"),*fn1 Daniels was charged in a Rules Violation Report ("RVR") with Battery on Inmate with Use of a Weapon. In November 2008, after a disciplinary hearing before a Senior Hearing Officer ("SHO"), Daniels was found guilty of Battery on Inmate with Use of a Weapon, a Division A-1 offense. The SHO assessed a loss of 360 days of behavioral credit and referred the matter for program and custody review, SHO term assessment, transfer consideration, and privilege group reduction action. After exhausting his administrative remedies,*fn2 Daniels timely filed a petition for habeas relief in the Solano County Superior Court, which denied Daniels relief in an unreported, reasoned decision. Daniels' subsequent petition for habeas relief in the California Court of Appeal, First Appellate District, was summarily denied without opinion or citation to authority. The California Supreme Court also summarily denied Daniels' petition without opinion or citation to authority on November 17, 2010. Daniels timely filed his Petition for relief in this Court on January 25, 2011.

The RVR charged:

On 8/25/08, at approximately 0900 hours an Investigation was concluded concerning the stabbing assault of I/M CLAR, F-56799, by I/M O'NEAL, F-64041, that occurred on 6/19/08 at approx. 1000 hours in H-Dorm on Facility II (Refer to incident report #CSP-SF2-08-06-0191).

During the Investigation, first hand confidential information was received that identified Inmate Daniels, P-49740, as threatening to have I/M O'NEAL, F64041, assaulted if he didn't stab a white inmate on Facility II. The threat against O'NEAL occurred on June 19, 2008 at approx. 0900 hours adjacent to Housing Unit 9.*fn3 The decision of the SHO was based upon the following:

A. The CDCR 115 of August 25, 2008, wherein Correctional Lieutenant M. Melgoza states in part, "During the investigation, first hand confidential information was received that identified Inmate Daniels, P-49740 as threatening to have I/M O'neal [sic], F-64041, assaulted if he didn't stab a white inmate on Facility If." The SHO believes this to be evidence that Inmate Daniels threatened to have Inmate O'neal assaulted if he did not stab another inmate. The SHO believes that this prior knowledge or planning of the subsequent assault directly involved Inmate Daniels as a principle participant of the event.

B. The confidential memorandum dated August 25, 2008 and authored by Correctional Lieutenant M. Melgoza indicates that on June 19, 2008 at approximately 0900 hours, while adjacent to housing unit 9, Inmate Daniels P-497 40, threatened to have Inmate O'neal F-64041, assaulted if he did not stab a white inmate on Facility II. The SHO believes that this confidential memorandum is evidence that Inmate Daniels was a direct participant in the Battery on Inmate Clark, F-56799, in that he had prior knowledge of the event and threatened inmate O'neal in order to get him to carry out the assault. The SHO has reviewed the confidential memorandum involved in this disciplinary and found that it does meet the criteria established m CCR §3321 (c)(4) for reliability[.] Part of the information that was provided by the confidential source was proven to be true during the investigation of the incident

C. The CDCR 837 incident report SF2-08-06-0191 dated June 19, 2008 and issued to Inmate Daniels on August 26, 2008, indicates that Inmate Clark was battered with a weapon by Inmate O'neal[.] The 837 C's authored by Correctional Officers A. Lamb, F[.] Miata and B. Yoro all state that Inmate O'neal was observed attacking Inmate Clark. The SHO believes this to be evidence that Inmate O'neal assaulted Inmate Clark as a direct result of the threat he received from Inmate Daniels.

D. The CDCR 7219 Report of Injury or Unusual Occurrence shows that Inmate Clark sustained injuries consistent with that of being battered with a weapon. These injuries consisted of two puncture wounds to the upper back. The SHO believes this to be evidence that Inmate O'neal battered Inmate Clark with a weapon as a direct result of being threatened by Inmate Daniels.*fn4

II. GROUNDS PRESENTED/DEFENSES

In his Petition, Daniels raises two grounds: (1) that the denial of the right to call a witness violated his Sixth Amendment right; and (2) he was denied the right to view video tape evidence in violation of due process. Respondent does not raise any affirmative defense. Daniels appended to his Petition a paper entitled "Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus and Memorandum of Points and Authorities."*fn5 This paper appears to be a photocopy of the memorandum he submitted in the state-court proceedings, with two handwritten pages inserted between page 17 and 18, and one handwritten page inserted between page 19 and 20. In that paper Daniels addresses issues not raised as a ground in his Petition, e.g., use of the confidential informant and sufficiency of the evidence. The Court declines to address issues not raised in, or directly related to, the two grounds raised in the Petition.*fn6

III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"), 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), this Court cannot grant relief unless the decision of the state court was "contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States" at the time the state court renders its decision or "was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding."*fn7 The Supreme Court has explained that "clearly established Federal law" in § 2254(d)(1) "refers to the holdings, as opposed to the dicta, of [the Supreme Court] as of the time of the relevant state-court decision."*fn8 The holding must also be intended to be binding upon the states; that is, the decision must be based upon constitutional grounds, not on the supervisory power of the Supreme Court over federal courts.*fn9 Thus, where holdings of the Supreme Court regarding the issue presented on habeas review are lacking, "it cannot be said that the state court 'unreasonabl[y] appli[ed] clearly established Federal law.'"*fn10 When a claim falls under the "unreasonable application" prong, a state court's application of Supreme Court precedent must be "objectively unreasonable," not just "incorrect or erroneous."*fn11 The Supreme Court has made clear that the objectively unreasonable standard is "a substantially higher threshold" than simply believing that the state-court determination was incorrect.*fn12 "[A]bsent a specific constitutional violation, federal habeas corpus review of trial error is limited to whether the error 'so infected the trial with unfairness as to make the resulting conviction a denial of due process.'"*fn13 In a federal habeas proceeding, the ...


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